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August 24, 2010

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;: ,lli,lllllllJilllll " " lullliimlullmld .lt_mllmjllllUll Paul Kruger "If I were young again, those are the guys I would want to serve with." Paul jQined the paratroopers in 1949, andhe and his twin brother, Eu- gene, served in the Korean War; but Paul's storybegins with his four older brothers wh were in WWII. The Kruger family farmed west of Beard- sley. There Were 14 children in the family, Paul iand his twin, Eugene, being the youngest. "Times were tough and mOaey was hard to come by. My dad, Frank, worked for the WPA because i you couldn't make a living on the farm. Prices were low, and besides, ydu couldn't raise a crop anyway because of the drought. The doctor chargedi$10 for a baby deliv- ery, but it was $ ! 5 for me and my twin brother, Eugene. We were born in 1931 and it took Dad until 1940 to get us paid up for." ;i When war broke out, his brothers, Lawrence, Jay, Ben, and Donald all signed up to serve. Lawrence, Ben, Eugene Kruger and Donald joined the Navy. Jay chose the Marines. Lawrence first went to the Aleutian Islands on a destroyer to escort troops assigned to retake Kiska and Attu, which had been occupied by the Japanese army. From there, he sailed throughout the Pacific; going wher- ever his ship took him on the many campaigns that gradually pushed the Japanese from island strongholds. Ben signed up for the Navy in Minneapolis. He was sent to boot camp at Farragut, Idaho, the same place Bob Barr and Leonard Olson had done their training. From there, he was sent to Seattle, WA, where he boarded ship and sailed into the Pa- cific Theater. His military service lasted two years, ending at Guam. He never spoke much about his war ex- periences. Donald was sent to Great Lakes from Minneapolis. After boot camp he, too, was sent to the Pacific where he saw action at Iwo Jima and Oki- nawa. He was aboard a destroyer at Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, the day Japan formally surrendered to the Al- lied forces, ending hostilities for WWII. Later, on July 1, 1946, Don- ald was aboard ship as an observer of the nuclear tests on Naval vessels at Bikini Atoll. Jay was in the 1 st Marine Division and joined them after the battle for Guadalcanal..His first action as a member of Company K of the 1st Regiment was at Pelelieu, dubbed Op- eration Stalemate. General Rupertus, commander of the Marine Corps, was confident the operation would be over in four days. The Japanese had other plans. The battle lasted two months. In terms of casualties, the battle for the island, which is barely 14 square miles, was the costliest of WWlI. The 1st Marine suffered 7.500 killed and wounded out of a total strength of 17,000. Of the 11,000 Japanese de- fenders, all died except for the 202 who surrendered, giving an indication of the ferocity of the fighting there. Jay made it through and wrote home that, after it was over, the sol- diers were given two oranges each. There is a bit of irony in this. Orange was the landing beach where Marines had to wade ashore during the island invasion after their LVPs were shelled and stranded on the reef. They strug- gled through chest-deep water while being fired upon by Japanese artillery and machine guns. Casualties were very high. After Pelelieu, the 1st Marine Di- vision was sent to the rear for rest and refitting. They would sit out the bat- tle at Iwo Jima, but they were ready for Okinawa. Other county boys would be there, too. Russell Stans- field and Bud Robertson were in the Marines alongside Jay. Frank Kvidera, Ervin Kaufman, and Gene Burdick were ashore, pushing the de- Lawrence Kruger fenders back. Off shore, Roger Nolop, Delton Silberstein, Bud Tilbury, and Bob Barr were at their battle stations. Elwood Throndrud was on his LST, shuttling men and materiel to shore. Later, they would be joined by Leonard Johnson and Robert Nelson. Vince Stegner was flying his Corsair above and Wayne Johnson was not far away in his P-51, It would take 81 days to capture the island. Towards the end of the campaign, the battle of Kunishi Ridge would be the last full-scale fighting of WWII. It was here that General Ushi- jimi's remaining regular troops made their final and very determined stand. The ridge was honeycombed with caves and bunkers and the steep in- cline provided the defenders with ideal ground to defend against ad- vancing Mafines  ' On the 12th of June, the 1st Marines secured the top of the ridge, leaving them in a peculiar tactical po- sition. They held the top of the hill and the Japanese held the inside of the hill. The fighting can be described, knew I didn't want to work for some- body else the rest of my life and I thought that maybe joining the serv- ice would get me started in a new di- rection. I signed up for the paratroopers, mainly because they paid an extra $50 a month." Paul did his boot camp at Ft. Riley, KS. From there they sent him to Ft. Benning, GA, for paratroop training. The training lasted six weeks. There was physical training every day. Every day the troopers did pushups and more pushups. They had to run wherever they went. If a trooper made a mistake, it was more pushups. "Gimme TEN," was the price to be paid and the instructions collected their tens in never-ending streams. Glider training was first. "I didn't trust the gliders. Three-fourths of them crashed on landing at Normandy and I was very nervous when we made the first training landing." It took three glider rides for the troopers to be certified for that part of the train- ing. Next was jump school. "They took us up in 34-foot tow- ers, hooked a cable to us and made us jump. The cable held us enough so we didn't crash into the ground. We had to learn how to land on the body parts that took the shock the best. We learned this from our instructors, and when we'd be just walking around, they'd yell a random order, 'FALL RIGHT' or 'FALL FORWARD' and we'd have'to make the fall so it didn't hurt." "The fifth week, we jumped for real, out of an airplane. Some guys would freeze in the doorway and the next day they were gone. I was nerv- Ben Kruger somewhat, in the words of PFC Sledge. "Its crest looked so much like Bloody Nose that my knees nearly buckled. I felt as though I were on Pelelieu and had it all to go through again." Half of his company became casualties in the next 22 hours. Gen- eral Buckner was killed on June 18th. On June 22nd, Pvt. Jay Kruger was hit and died from the wounds on July 3, 1945. His brother Donald was off- shore on a ship. Paul remembered that word got to his family from a neighbor who stopped by their farm to deliver their sympathy. "We hadn't heard of a thing and we didn't believe it because the Government hadn't told us. As it turned out, the neighbor had probably gotten a letter from one of the local boys who was there, too." "On a Sunday shortly after that, we went to church. There was a Confir- mation that Sunday. Afterwards, we went to the caf6 and had root beers and then drove home. As we drove into the farmyard, we saw a black car sitting there, waiting. We knew what the news would be." Four years later, Paul volunteered for service. "The Cold War was heat- ing up and they enacted a draft. I f Donald Kruger ous - I was always nervous before a  jOmp. ou never knew f something i vould go wrong. One time a suspen-i sion line went over the canopy" and another time I had to use my reserve chute because the main didn't open properly. Also, there was another time when one of the other jumpers went through my lines." The jumps were made from 1500 feet down to 800 feet. It took 80 sec- onds to get to the ground - if every- thing worked okay. The military chute has a vent in the top, a hole, to let the air through. This is different than a free-fall chute like you see them use at county fairs. Our chutes were made to get us to the ground as quickly as possible because a trooper is very vulnerable to ground fire." "We finished up in the sixth week with a night jump and then a massed jump. That was it- we had passed the test and got our wings. This was in the spring of 1950. I was in 325 Reg- iment of the 82nd Airborne." "In June, the North Koreans in- vaded the south and pushed the UN forces, mainly Americans, back to a 10-square-mile pocket. Things were going bad. They called the 187 be- cause they were all WWII vets. They left so fast that their radios were still playing when the next bunch took over their barracks." Paul was sent to Company B where he was assigned prison chaser duties. "The war was on and there were some of the guys who were afraid they would have to go, so they just went AWOL. The MPs would catch them and we'd be called to go pick them up and deliver them to prison. I didn't like that much - there were too many sad stories, so I asked to be transferred. I signed up for the Rangers, but the Sergeant said, 'You really don't want to do that.' So I lis- tened to him and they sent me to spe- cial duty where I fried hamburgers - not very glamorous, but at least I did- n't have to pick up prisoners." "That didn't last too long and they assigned me to D company, a heavy weapons unit. The first thing they taught me to do was how to operate a mortar. One day during training, one of the other guys fired, or maybe ms- fired, a round into a tree near me. Shrapnel hit me here. in my side." At this point Paul pulled up his shirt and showed us the scar. It was H00.SSLEN CONSTRUCTION ORTONVILLE, MN 320-839-2529 Jay Kruger about eight inches long: Then he pulled out a small plastic bag with the pece of shrapnel in it. The shard was about an inch long and wide. A small piece of metal can do a lot of damage. "I didn't get the Purple Heart for that one. They cut it out and patched me up and I went back to my unit." "I learned how to fire a recoilless rifle. It was the most accurate and powerful shoulder-fired weapon avail- able. One thing about it was that you had to be careful that nobody was standing behind you when you fired it. The back blast could splinter a wooden ammunition box." "After that they sent me to a com- bat team at Ft. Bragg. I was in Com- pany. D of 325 Regiment. The regiment was about half Mexican Americans. We also had some ex- German soldiers in our outfit. I think they joined up to meet a requirement before they could become U.S. citi-- zens. I guess we were a bunch of meatheads, because if there was ever trouble in town, the officers knew it was probably guys from the 325th." "But I'll tell you this - those guys were a great bunch of guys. I became good friends with many of them. My best friend was Ricardo Lavatta. He was sent to Korea. I never heard from him again. I hope he made it through okay." "The terrain in Korea was not good for paratroopers, so we spent the war at Ft. Bragg, from '50-'53. They could have sent us over as ground troops, but then no one knew, at the time, that we may have been needed somewhere else. The 187 were the only paratroopers sent to Korea." "If I was young again and had to serve, those guys in the 325th are the ones I would want to serve with. I don't know if they'll have another war over there. They never really finished the first one." Maybe we will never be finished with war. Maybe some day mankind will decide that war is not a proper way to settle problems. Until that day, we will have to depend on common people doing uncommon deeds for their country. For that we owe them our gratitude and our promise never to forget them. Fish and Wildlife service driving trail close for season The popular auto trail around the Edwards Waterfowl Production Area east of Morris closed for the season on Friday, Oct. 15. The auto trail begins three miles east of Morris on County Road 10. It is a graveled trail where people can drive and see different types of wildlife habitat and examples of various wildlife management practices used by the Fish and Wildlife Service on wa- terfowl producation areas throughout western Minnesota. The auto trail also provides a nice opportunity for wildlife viewing. The auto trail is open daily from sunrise to sunset from spring until the opening of the pheasant hunting season. by rlo 3"anssen . Cences from my four decades I kept volumes of notes I , rny ability, thbzgs as they 1 e names have been changed. 1 (Brought up #7 out of 10 children born to our parents rd have to have a sense of humor. Right?) :. And other places I've hung out over the years By Arlo Janssen Sometimes my humor backfires. One of those times was at a department store in Tucson, AZ. I was looking at some men's socks, when a young female employee ap- proached me and said, "You might be interested in the socks over there; we just marked them down to half-price." While she escorted me to the socks, I asked her if she was a student. She said "Yes; I'm a nursing student at Pima College here in Tucson." I then told her that I taught for years at Cochise College in Douglas, where they have a good nursing program. "I applied at Cochise College," she replied, "but they got my scholarship papers mixed up." "What scholarship was that?" I asked "A Yaqui Tribal Scholarship." Seeing that her name, 'Mykela,' was on her store uniform, I said, "Oh, you're Mykela; they don't believe at Cochise that you're a Yaqui." "What do you mean?" she re- sponded excitedly. "I gave them all the documentation !" I quickly told her that I was just kidding her-that I knew nothing about her situation with Cochise College. I also said that I didn't really know her name-that I had just seen it on her uni- form. Also, I profusely apologized for upsetting her. I thought that was the end of it. I surely didn't expect what happened next. A little later, I proceeded to the check-out with several pairs of socks and a few items my wife had found. Just then, Mykela walked up to the clerk and said in a loud voice, pointing toward me, "The socks that man has are not on sale; he put those half-price stickers on them/ I saw him" All of a sudden there was total Si- lence! All of the checkers stopped, and everyone looked toward me! Just then the girl, Mykela, standing behind the checker, pointed toward me and said, with a smile, "Gotcha!" Believe me, I was relieved and so was my wife. In fact I think the checker was, too. In a minute the check-out area was a hubbub of sound again. I talked with that girl later and apol- ogized again. That's when my wife said with a smile, "You had that com- ing, Arlo; you really did!" The girl agreedwith Ofelia and chuckled aloud about getting back at me. Well, like the skunk said 'high on a windy hill,' "It all comes back to me now." Signed copies of Arlo's book about growing up in Odessa are available at Otrey Lake Gallery in Ortonville. If you would like to contac him, write to PO Box 1311, Benson, AZ, 85602. E- mail: arlo.janssen(a)gmail, corn Musings from the Museum By Norm Shelsta On this date in the State of Min- nesota History Files followed by an event from the Big Stone County His- tory Files: Oct. 20, 1849-The Minnesota His- torical Society is incorporated by an act of territorial legislature, and Alexander Ramsey is elected the society's first president. Minnesota is lucky to have begun preserving its history so early. Oct. 20, 1938-Ortonville's Munici- pal Band provided entertainment at various functions this year-one of those was a Water Carnival in July. Oct. 21,1967-The Minnesota North Stars professional hockey team plays its first home game, beating the Cali- fornia Seals three to one. Oct. 21,1877-John William Martin Movius died. He was a physician who operated a series of mills in early his- tory. Oct. 22, 1989-Jacob Wetterling, an l 1-year-old from St. Joseph, is kid- napped while riding his bike. His par- ents launch a search for him, and Jacob's photograph appears on posters from coast to coast, but he has not been found. In 1990, Jerry and Patty Wet- terling would establish a nonprofit foundation to focus national attention on missing children and their families. Oct. 22, 1942-Red Cross scrap pile of 323 tons of metal was sent to aid in the War effort. Oct. 23, 1934-Minnesota residents Jeanette and Jean Piccard ascend in a hydrogen balloon to a record 57,579 feet. Jeanette would make a total of six trips into the stratosphere and would later serve as a consultant to NASA. Oct. 23, 1948-Century Vault, with the Clinton Advocate Newspaper, was placed in the cornerstone vault in the Minneapolis Star Tribune Building for 2048. Oct. 24, 1871-The railroad reaches Breckenridge in the Red River Valley. Oct. 24,1850-TV cabinets edge out console radios in area homes. Oct. 25, 1987-In the seventh game of the World Series, the Twins beat the St. Louis Cardinals with a score of four to two, winning the series four to three. Oct. 25,1904-Consolidated Granite Company was awarded the grand prize at St. Louis Exposition for the most su- perior stone. They had furnished two of the four pillars in the rotunda of the Minnesota State Capitol building. Oct. 26, 1960-Calvin Griffith de- cides to move his Washington Senators to Minnesota, where the team is re- named the Twins. Oct. 26, 2007-A joint meeting with the Citizens for Big Stone Lake and the Big Stone County Museum heard Scott Miller and Todd Foster tell of their journey by canoe from St. Cloud to the Minnesota River at Ortonville and then up to the Hudson Bay. Special deer hunt for Big Stone Lake State Park Numerous special resource man- agement deer hunts are scheduled to take place at Minnesota state parks this fall, according to the Minnesota De- partment of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR advises anyone visiting a park during these hunts to wear blaze orange or other brightly colored cloth- ing. Visitors should also check for hunt- related information at the park office when they arrive and look carefully for signage related to the hunt. Big Stone Lake State Park will have some areas open only to hunters with special permits but other areas will re- main open to all visitors on Dec. 4-5. mem and Honor Those Who Have Served or Are Serving Our Country! Bring in a photo of a family member, friend or neighbor who has served or is serving in the Armed Forces. Cost is $10.00 r SP4 KLNNL l H KUEFLER U,S. Army 1967-69, Vietnam 1968-69 The Ortonville Independent will publish the photos in their Veterans Day issue dated Nov. 9, 2010. Please send payment and photo to: Ortonville Independent, PO Box 336, Ortonville, MN 56278. Photos may be returned by enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Photos may also be Deadline is Noon on Nov. 4, Page 10 INDEPENDENT Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010 ], t 0000l00l000000ll000000,0000'llilY00IRIilllll00ll00lltltt00llNIIIl00 I mm!00000000000000llaH00rnl00|00allll0000 1 IR00II,MHI00It0000ll I1 I00l] 111 lrl[ ]' ]r[l00 it